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Lori Navarro's blog

3:36 PM on 08.13.2011

FemShep 5: Blame the Game, not the Player

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman expressing opinion on the Internet must be a Feminazi.”

Now at this point, I can't really tell if that was a mangled Jane Austen quote or another misguided commenter on new features contributor Sophie Prell's post.

Although the article was refreshingly well-supported, it seemed like majority of the people who read it weren't actually getting the point. From what I gathered, the crux of her argument is that it is wrong to subject the design of a main female character to a popularity vote. The operative word is female, and of course, when writers talk about anything related to that, they must be feminists, m I rite?

While everyone seems to be reacting to the article in their own way, let's just agree to disagree: This shitstorm wouldn't have happened if BioWare didn't decide to hold the poll in the first place.

What do you mean I'm a trite blonde stereotype?!

The reasons why a lot of people are upset about the FemShep issue are pretty simple. First, we all have our own preconceived ideas on how we want our Shepard to be. Some may say that they aren't really affected by aesthetics, and they just use the Vanderloo Shepard – totally fine.

But evidently, other people are more invested in how they want their Shepard to be represented. By virtue of customization alone, players are able to dictate the social history and personality of their characters as they please. We want to design Shepard according to our personal inclinations, creativity, whims and ideologies. In many ways, we own Shepard.

More importantly, no one wants to be preached on how to build their Shepard – or be told that their Shepard is politically incorrect. I understand why people who voted for blonde and blue-eyed womynfolk would resent comments that FemShep 5 is soooo mainstream Hollywood. On the same note, my political activist self would not necessarily appreciate a Shepard who reminds me of my previous colonial overlords.

Politically-correct Shepard

Hey, it is a culturally fragmented gaming world. That is why the developers usually impose a default appearance for the main character, so the Internet will not foster competition among segments of the population who individually think their opinions matter.

Therein lies another layer of debate. Why is the default Shepard Caucasian? Male? Hollywood? Swedish? And so fucking Dreamy?

Clearly, design is not a perfect process. But instead of taking responsibility, listening to fan feedback and creating a clear purpose, significance and meaning to FemShep's appearance, BioWare decided their wash their hands clean and let the audience have free choice.

Female gamers have the right to be angry in my opinion. The whole poll and the general lack of accountability reek of trivializing the gender issue. Facebook likes? What, YouTube comments not good enough?!

Considering the socio-political context of gender representation in games, e.g., even mainstream RPGs like Mass Effect that give you the freedom to choose your gender still use the male as the default, it is well-documented that female characters are still sorely underrepresented in this industry, more so strong female characters with an ethnic background.

That being said, seeing the blog comments made me lose a little faith in humankind, especially with a lot of people not really grasping why this can be an issue. I don't like the idea that just because females are actually taking a stand on how they want a character's appearance to embody their own ideals on feminine badassery vs. just being Geth Jugglenauts (see what I did thar?!), they are instantly shot down.

So yes, it is bad form for a company not to take a more active stance on this especially if a lot of their established fanbase is female. Instead of making a decision that will definitely help them gain street cred for being sympathetic to the plight of women and minorities, they chose to downplay the whole issue and make a marketing spectacle out of it.

And this, my friends, is democracy.   read

7:29 PM on 08.11.2011

Long delayed intro post, ho!

When the first comment on my first ever Dtoid article asked "Who the fuck is Lori Navarro," I felt obliged to honor that question with a reply, so here goes!

Hello Destructoid, I don't think we have been introduced. I'm Lori, and like most fresh faces on the site, I am an intern and a new member of the SF Events team. In fact, I officially started writing here just last week.

So how did I land this much coveted gig? Let's go back three months ago.

It was last April when I graduated from college in the Philippines. That's right, I'm far from being an SF native. I was however born in the Bay Area, and I moved back eventually to Southeast Asia. Aren't I a curious piece of exotica?

A typical Filipino according to Soul Calibur. I wear this outfit to the mall.

After getting my Anthropology degree, I felt a bit restless and even weary about transitioning into the "real world" so to speak. I wanted to explore other options for personal growth, and I didn't really have that in the kind of setup I have back home.

I decided to try staying in a foreign country to find my niche and also because I like the word "niche" very much. Officially, I have been staying here since May. At this point in my life, I just want to put myself out there and try to do things that would be fulfilling for me on many levels, and videogame writing is one of the things that fascinate me.

Anthropology is not exactly the obvious choice for undergrad if you want to get into this journalism-intensive field, but I have somehow convinced myself a long time ago that if I want to design a game with an expansive world and social relevance, I might be able to use my background there.

This is why we need anthropologists in videogames.

In terms of writing about games and gaming communities, I also try to apply the same unprejudiced and non-elitist cultural mindset. While I definitely had more experience documenting indigenous drinking practices, I hope I can produce a different perspective on videogames while at the same time maintaining my unabashed crudeness and self-deprecating sense of humor.

So somebody mentioned games! Growing up, I basically had adventure titles as my storybooks, so that really influenced my current taste in games. Also, RPGs that force me to spend 30 hours or more of gameplay are right up my alley.

Some of my all-time favorites include:
- Monkey Island (I will probably degrade myself on the Internet by having a Monkey Island-themed wedding. By myself if necessary)
- Sam & Max (Also a big fan of the comic book!)
- Baldur's Gate II
- Fallout 2
- Final Fantasy VI
- Mass Effect 2
- Dragon Age: Origins

Non-videogame-related things that I am currently obsessed with include A Song of Ice and Fire, films by the Coen Brothers, zombies, Stephen Colbert and the TV show Community.

Wow, an episode about DND that isn't totally condescending? Take that, Big Bang Theory.

Now that I have sufficiently introduced myself, I guess it's time to return the question: who the f*** are you? :)   read

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